State of the Rockies
Colorado College’s State of the Rockies project encourages students to explore critical environmental and social challenges of the Rocky Mountain West. Through faculty led research and out-of-classroom experiences, students gain an appreciation of the region’s physical characteristics and the impact of human land use activities while employing an inter-disciplinary approach to finding balance between human activity and our environment.
Conservation in the West poll
Winter Sunrise at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Photo by Stephen Weaver
Rockies 2020-2021 Project
Urbanization and Nature on the Front Range
Colorado's population is one of the fastest growing in the United States. Though many people are drawn here for the natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities offered in the state, rapid growth is putting pressure on these same resources. Climate change is further straining the state’s environment, and drought, floods, and forest fires threaten many of Colorado’s communities. Our current research explores the relationships among urbanization, nature, and climate change in Colorado.
One area of research we are undertaking looks at local and statewide initiatives to reduce carbon emissions through changing electricity production and transportation infrastructure. Research fellows are examining green transportation initiatives, particularly efforts to increasing electric vehicles across the state and local policies to enhance cycling infrastructure, both of which can improve public health and reduce the environmental impact of personal mobility. We are also examining efforts to reduce the cost and environmental impact of local energy production. As electricity production and transportation are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, these efforts have important implications for the overall environmental impact of our urban areas.
We are also examining ways that communities are preparing for a changing climate. This aspect of our research is examining the community assets that have helped agriculture dependent counties enhance resiliency in the face of drought and other threats to rural livelihoods; the variety of water transfer methods cities are adopting to secure a long-term urban water supply while supporting the needs of farmers and agricultural communities; and the political and technical challenges of city storm water management.
Overall, this year’s State of the Rockies project seeks to illuminate ways that actors in Colorado are rethinking our relationship to a changing climate and to understand how these changes can be built upon to create a more resilient region.
MEET the Rockies 2019-2020 Research Fellows
Check their blog bulletins as they explore the challenges of changing climatic conditions in the Rocky Mountain Front Range
Rockies fellows SCORE at CC's 2019 Family and Friends Weekend faculty-student research conference
State of the Rockies fellows presented their summer projects during this year's Student Collaborative Research Experience (SCORE) conference. The Fellows' researched various topics across the Rocky Mountain Front Range -- from bike lane controversies in Colorado Springs to drought response in agricultural communities in eastern Colorado. Family and friends joined students, faculty, and staff in CC's Cornerstone Arts Center for this summer research symposium held annually during CC's Friends and Family Weekend. View the fellows' posters:
- Community Power Via Community Power: Pueblo's Campaign for a Municipal Utility
- Spiraling-Up through Drought Responses in Colorado's Farming-Dependent Counties
- Framing Climate Change: An Analysis of Colorado's Climate Change Policies
- 'I Love Biking but Hate Bike Lanes:' The History, Controversy, and Contradictions of Bike Infrastructure in Colorado Springs
- Water Sharing Agreements Along Colorado's Front Range
- The Power and Politics of Urban Water Output: Colorado Springs Stormwater
Rockies Rapid Response Research Projects
- Learn more and apply for a Rockies Rapid Response Research grant
CC students present Rockies Rapid Response research at 2019 SCORE conference
Rockies 2019 Photo Finalists
Aspen decline in Rocky Mountain National Park
by Margaux Rose '20
Ski industry and climate change: decrease in epic skiing?
by Andrew Hildenbrand '20